What Can I Do If I'm At Risk for Testicular Cancer?

All men are at some risk of testicular cancer. Unfortunately, most risk factors, such as age and family history, cannot be changed. Since researchers are still learning what exactly causes testicular cancer, there is, at this time, no reliable way to lower your risk.

However, that does not mean there is nothing you can do. If you catch testicular cancer early, you have the best chance of a cure. While there are no blood tests used to screen for testicular cancer in men without symptoms, doing a testicular cancer self-exam (TSE) regularly may help you find testicular cancer early. Some doctors recommend you do a TSE once a month, although the American Cancer Society (ACS) doesn't have a recommendation for how often it should be done. The ACS does recommend that men be aware of testicular cancer and that they see a medical doctor right away with the first sign of a lump on the testicle. Other symptoms may include testicular swelling or a dull ache or heavy sensation in the lower abdomen. 

How to Do a TSE

You should get to know the normal size, shape, and weight of your testicles. This will help you notice any changes over time. It is normal for one testicle to be lower or slightly larger than the other.

Doctors recommend that men perform the exam during or right after taking a shower. This is because your scrotal skin is softer and more relaxed at this time. This makes it easier to feel any changes.

Follow these steps to do a self-exam:

  • Using both hands, gently roll each testicle between your fingers.

  • Find the epididymis, a string-like structure on the top and back of each testicle. This is a normal part of the testicles.

  • Feel for lumps under the skin, in the front or along the sides of either testicle. A lump may feel like a kernel of uncooked rice or a small, hard pea.

  • Have your doctor check any swellings or lumps you find.

Changes in the testicles can have causes other than cancer, but it is important to see your doctor if you are unsure about anything you see or feel. Also ask your doctor about testicular exams during your regularly scheduled checkups. Most doctors agree that examining a man's testicles should also be part of regular physical exams. The doctor may be able to find any lumps you may have missed.